Get ready for an action-packed day as we spent a full day from our Lisbon itinerary for a day trip to Sintra and Cascais. Wear comfortable shoes as you’re going to be doing quite a lot of walking. Last time, I only spent half a day there and visited only two sights. This time around, we did plenty more and included Cascais as well. You can totally split this itinerary into two days, which I personally would recommend so you get to properly enjoy each site and not end up with dead legs by the end of the day.
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Day Trip to Sintra and Cascais
Sintra is the number one day trip destination for anyone visiting Lisbon. It’s inevitable that it’s a bit touristy but I really enjoyed Sintra especially its charm and fairytale-like setting. Last time, I managed to visit the Castle of Moors, the Pena Palace, and explored the streets in Sintra town centre. This time, we started early in the day and visited plenty more sights. We were absolutely knackered but we managed to get to Cascais as well with a stop at Cabo da Roca, i.e. the westernmost point of Europe.
How to go to Sintra from Lisbon
It’s very convenient to take a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra. There are regular trains operating from Lisbon’s Rossio station that’ll take you straight to Sintra. The journey takes about 40 minutes.
Getting around Sintra
Once you arrive at Sintra, there are circuit buses right outside the station to take you around all the essential sights around town. Look for bus #434, which does a loop from the train station to the first two sights in our itinerary and then passes through the historic town centre. The first bus starts at 9.15 am. Going around just by foot or by driving is not recommended.
Itinerary for Visiting Sintra and Cascais
Castle of Moors
We didn’t actually visit the Castle of Moors on this particular trip but I’ve visited on my last trip and would recommend giving a visit. It’s totally doable to squeeze it into the itinerary as well.
The Castle of Moors is a medieval castle, built in the 8th & 9th centuries, nestling at the hilltop of Sintra. It once served as an important strategic point during the Reconquista and was taken by Christian forces after the fall of Lisbon in 1147. The sight you see is the remaining ruins of the castle.
There is a forest pathway to the entrance, where the circuit bus makes its first stop from the station. It’s a nice little walk shrouded in lush greenery and great views along the way. Once you reach the castle, climbing up the higher towers would offer you a panoramic view of the whole coastline.
The next stop along the circuit bus route is the Pena Palace. Although you might want to take a short walk there from the Castle of Moors instead because your circuit bus ticket only allows 2 rides and you have to save that 2nd ride for heading back into Sintra town centre after the sights!
I have visited the Pena Palace from my last trip as well and the two had been different experiences. My first time was clinging to the last of summery weather where the sun was shining brilliantly. The colours were distinctively vibrant both on the naked eye and on photos then. This time around, it was April and we were faced with foggy weather, which dulled down the colours.
Brace for quite an uphill hike from the entrance to the actual palace, which is going to be quite a bit of a workout! Once there, you’d be greeted with colourful and romantic architecture. We didn’t pay any extras for visiting the staterooms. The Park ticket we got allows us to explore the palace grounds and terraces, which are quite sufficient in my opinion.
Lunch at La Tascantiga
After the Pena Palace, we took the circuit bus back into Sintra town centre and had lunch at a Portuguese tapas restaurant named La Tascantiga. We sampled through a couple of seafood petiscos (i.e. Portuguese tapas) including fried prawns with garlic & coriander, octopus, etc. The food quality was great and we enjoyed the family-run friendly restaurant vibe as well.
Quinta da Regaleira
Next up after a quick lunch recharge, we headed towards Quinta da Regaleira. There are buses that would take you from Sintra’s town centre to Quinta da Regaleira, but walking is doable as well – we did the latter (maybe that explained why our legs felt so tired by the end of the day). If you’d like to take a bus, look out for bus #435.
Quinta da Regaleira had been my favourite sight in Sintra. We really enjoyed exploring the grounds – there’s quite a lot to see! My favourite is definitely the iconic Ignacio Wells. From the top, you can descend the spiral stairs to the bottom, and then there are all these underground tunnels leading to the grotto and waterfall lake which are beautiful and really fun to explore.
Tempted by its spectacularly intricate architectural designs and manicured gardens, we originally wanted to visit the Monserrate Palace. However, we spent more time at Quinta da Regaleira than we anticipated and ran out of time. That’s why I pointed out it is worth considering splitting this whole Sintra and Cascais itinerary into 2 days instead which would allow you to take your time at each sight. Anyway, perhaps another excuse for me to come back to Portugal again to see this magnificent sight!
To go to the Monserrate Palace from Quinta da Regaleira, take bus #435 again.
Visiting Cascais and Cabo da Roca from Sintra
For the next leg of the journey, we hopped on the #403 bus from Sintra towards Cascais. Not going to lie, I was already starting to get tired at this point and snoozed a little on the journey before we stopped at Cabo da Roca.
Cabo da Roca marks the most western point of the continent of Europe and, once upon a time, believed by people as the edge of the world. It was very windy there but the rugged cliffs make a spectacular landscape to admire. Apart from the monument, there’s a lighthouse as well and a standard tourist gift shop around but nothing else.
Cascais and back to Lisbon
We hopped back onto the same #403 bus route and went all the way to Cascais. Unfortunately, it was absolutely pouring at that time. After waiting for a good 15-20 minutes at the covered bus stop, we decided to just get an Uber to a restaurant to escape the rain.
We ended up refuelling at Pica Pica Tapas and thankfully the rain stopped by the time we finished. To be honest, I was rather knackered at this point but still walked around and tried to explore the town a little bit. Cascais definitely seemed quite a charming summer town but it was a bit quiet during April time. We managed to catch the late sunset by the cliffside and then eventually went to the train station to take the train back to Lisbon (Calais de Sodre station).
So this sums up our intense Sintra and Cascais day trip itinerary. It’s a bit physically demanding but it’s certainly doable. If not, as mentioned, you can always split this into two days!
Where to Stay in Sintra and Cascais
Hotels in Sintra
- Casa da Pendoa – £
- Casa Holstein Quinta de Sao Sebastiao Sintra – ££
- Sintra Marmoris Palace – £££
- Tivoli Palácio De Seteais – ££££
Hotels in Cascais
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